What does Labour think?


On the face of it a tax to discourage something that isn’t wanted is okay.

It works for tobacco.

Perhaps that’s why the Taxpayers’ Union uncharacteristically is welcoming a new tax.

. . . “For us the key questions are whether the Green Party’s policy will result in a simpler, more transparent tax system and whether it will reduce New Zealand’s overall tax burden. From what we’ve seen to date, it appears the proposals could do both.” . . .

The Green part doesn’t want to reduce the overall tax burden.

It wants to add a capital gains tax without any compensating reduction in other taxes and it’s planning other taxes including charges on water.

But the most important question about this policy is what does Labour think?

. . . For the policy to be implemented it would have to be accepted by the Labour Party as part of a coalition deal, and there would have to be a change of government.

Labour isn’t commenting – which usually means it doesn’t agree with what the Greens want.

The tax would impose higher costs on households than any compensatory reduction in other taxes and that would hit the poorest people hardest.

A carbon tax was one of the big factors which sank Julia Gillard’s Labor government in Australia, Labour here will take that into account before it decides whether or not to support the policy here.


Someone has to pay the bill


I tuned to talkback on my way home from Dunedin on Monday night and heard a man explaining to Kerre McIvor that everything went wrong in New Zealand when Roger Douglas was Finance Minister.

He was wrongly criticising the cure rather than the cause.

Roger Douglas’s recipe wasn’t perfect but radical change was necessary because of the parlous state our economy was in owing to too many years of living beyond our means.

No doubt Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey will be similarly criticised for the tough medicine he delivered in his first Budget last night.

Critics will forget he was handed a sick economy and it was the high spending and high taxing prescription of the Labor governments before him which did the damage.

Now Hockey’s had to present the bill which all Australia has to pay just as we’ve been paying the bill for the over taxing and over spending that Labour-led governments indulged in through the noughties here.

How many others feel that way?


Shane Jones said he would have refused to work with the Greens in government:

Mr Jones has gone blue – National Party blue, off to work for the Government, revealing his hatred for Labour’s Green allies is so deep that he could never have worked in a Labour-Green coalition government, which would likely have co-leader Russel Norman as deputy Prime Minister.
“I would not have been able to work under Russel Norman as Deputy Prime Minister,” he says.
“I’m totally disinterested in a political career where there may have been a dim prospect that he would be my chief. It would be a long day in hell before that happens.” . . .
How many others in the Labour caucus feel that way and who could blame them? But the weaker Labour is the more bargaining power the Greens will have.

Mr Jones says going Green is wrecking Labour.

“I’ve never ever subscribed to the notion that the only way Labour would be strong is by ‘greening’ itself, so we are some sort of version of the Tasmanian Green Party. I never agreed with that.”

Back to Jones.

Mr Jones says Labour would never elect him leader, that Labour has gone too left and left him.

“The test over whether brand Labour is a broad church will rest in the breath of the September vote. Lose no sleep over doubting whether that is the truth.”

So it’s goodbye to the man they call Jonesy and haere ra to Mr Jones. He crusies off into the Pacific, but his parting shot could not be clearer.

The once broad church that housed people like him is becoming so increasingly narrow that it risks being punished in the polls.

It is still a long time until election day in which time a lot could change.
But once more the media is focussing on disarray within Labour which will not endear it to voters.

More instability on left


A majority of Labour’s caucus didn’t give David Cunliffe their first preferences in the leadership vote.

The difference in views on mineral exploration isn’t the only one in the party and now there’s another sign of instability on the left:

Green Party member David Hay is challenging Russel Norman for the co-leadership of the party.

Mr Hay, 52, ran as the Green Party candidate for Epsom in the 2011 general election and is currently ranked number 16 on the party list.

While he thinks Dr Norman has been doing a “great job”, Mr Hay says he wants to put the current leadership team “to the test”.

“At this stage, I’m testing to see whether there is support within the party for change,” he said. . . 

“I want to put Russel’s leadership to the test: if he wins out, then he will lead the party into government with a renewed mandate.

Not necessarily, recent history of the Labour party here and Labor in Australia shows winning the leadership isn’t necessarily the end of dissent.

. . . Green Party leadership positions are decided by a vote of the delegates at the Annual General Meeting.

This will be held on Queens Birthday weekend in Wellington next year.

Hay’s chances of winning the challenge aren’t great when he’s not even in parliament, although Norman became co-leader before he was an MP.
But the challenge does raise a question over the leadership.
That question will be there for the next six months and the media will take a greater interest in the party’s internal machinations than it has in the past, if only to establish if Hay is a lone voice.
The Green Party prides itself on its internal democracy and it has also maintained a pretty united front in public until now.
This is the first crack in that facade, albeit a very small one.
But if there’s one more could follow and if there’s one thing the public don’t like it’s a party which is fighting fires its members have lit in their own nest rather than concentrating on what really matters for the country.


Open for business


The question wasn’t if the Liberal National Coalition would win but by how much, and it is a decisive victory:

TONY Abbott has declared the nation “open for business” once again, vowing to lead a competent and trustworthy government for all Australians.

Claiming election victory in Sydney, he said he was proud and humbled as he shouldered the responsibility of government. . .

The incoming Abbott government is likely to have at around 90 seats and Labor at least 55, on the back of a 3.6 per cent national swing against the ALP. 

The Greens retained Melbourne, independent Bob Katter held his Queensland seat of Kennedy and Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie hung on to Denison

However, 27 seats remained “close” as the Australian Electoral Commission continued counting and two were too difficult to call at all. . .

Being open for business is necessary for Australia and will be good for New Zealand.

It doesn’t mean business at the expensive of people or the environment, but it does mean a change from the policies that have wasted the opportunities from the mineral boom, created a two-speed economy and let Australia’s international competitiveness slip.

As our  Prime Minister John Key said in congratulating Tony Abbott:

“Australia is our most important relationship.  Our common interests span trade, economic, defence and security matters and we cooperate closely in our region and on the international stage. . . “

In spite of the, usually, good-natured Trans Tasman rivalry our common interests are best served by both countries prospering.

We have been going forward but the gap between us has widened more because they’ve been in reverse.

Being better than Australia because its going backwards isn’t good for either of us.



Exit polls indicate Liberals’ landslide win


A Sky News exit poll points to a landslide win for the Liberal Coalition.

Exit polls, like any others, can and do differ from the final vote count but it would be a very foolish gambler who put any money on a Labor win tonight.

Labour like Labor


Kevin Rudd’s opinion of himself as Labor’s, and Australia’s, great hope is not shared by voters.

With just a week to go until election day in Australia, Labor is almost certainly heading for a landslide defeat.

Sydney Morning Herald columnist Gay Alcorn writes:

. . . I have been around too long to predict election outcomes, but it is looking as though September 7 will be a day of reckoning for a party that has come close to destroying itself. Labor seems so hollowed out that perhaps it had no choice but to grasp onto an American-style campaign centred around one man, Kevin Rudd, the man who more than any other contributed to the party’s predicament.

Perhaps Rudd’s elevation will mean that Labor will avoid the ”catastrophic defeat” it faced under Gillard, and it will console itself with that. But there is so much heaviness in Labor’s campaign, weighed down as it is by bad memories and bad blood. . .

Put a u in Labor, change the leader’s name and this could have been written about the Labour Party here.

It too is hollowed out, weighed down by bad memories and bad blood.

It will have a new leader in a couple of weeks but it won’t have a new culture.

Hat tip: Keeping Stock

Red + Green poisonous mix


Wee parties generally do worse after they’ve been in coalition with a bigger one here, but in Australia the Green Party has tainted Labor.

An alliance with the Greens could be fatal for the already-struggling Labour Party, a leading Australian commentator warns.

The Australian’s chief opinion editor Nick Cater, who visited New Zealand this week to promote his book The Lucky Culture, warns an alliance with the Greens has been disastrous for Australia’s Labor Party, as socially-conservative middle and working class voters have abandoned their traditional support.

Of the Greens, he says: “They are absolutists and are rigid about man’s role in the environment and on earning a living.” . . *

Labour will almost certainly need Green Party support in some form, whether it’s as a coalition partner or just an agreement on confidence and supply, if it’s to form a government.

The bigger party is doing its best to sabotage itself with its internal woes and it’s being further undermined by its potential partner.

The radical left agenda of the Greens scares many moderate voters.

Labour couldn’t govern without them but fear of what would happen if it tried to govern with them is scaring voters who think rightly think Green + red would be a poisonous mix.

* Today’s NBR print edition has more on this.

Political stability boosts business confidence


Business confidence is higher in New Zealand than Australia.

New Zealanders looking across the Tasman at the “lucky country” and thinking their futures lie there might have second thoughts following the recent Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR).

Not only does it show New Zealand business confidence levels are nearly five times higher than Australia, but in other key areas such as employment, profitability and exports our Tasman neighbours lag well behind.

Paul Kane, partner, Privately Held Business, Grant Thornton New Zealand Ltd, said the second quarter figures for New Zealand remained strong against the rest of the world, but with some softening in two key areas – employment and profitability.

“Of the 44 countries surveyed New Zealand ranks seventh in confidence at 60%, behind Chile 88%, Peru 86%, United Arab Emirates 86%, Philippines 84%, India 75% and Mexico 62%.

“Australia on the other hand is ranked 31st on 13%, having dropped 10% since the first quarter of 2013. New Zealand dropped only 1% in that time.

“That’s a substantial drop for Australia and reflects the impact of the slow down of China on their economy, especially mining, and the tense local political scene with their impending general elections,” he said. . .

The impact of political instability shouldn’t be underestimated.

The ruling Labor Party has been focussed on its internal leadership shenanigans while the economy has been slowing.

The country needs good policies which encourage businesses to invest and grow, instead of which it’s had back stabbing and navel gazing.

Contrast that with New Zealand where National, and its leader, have maintained popularity ratings similar to that gained in the last election.

Party unity, focus on what really matters and policies which give business confidence play a big part in that.

There are lessons in this for the Labour Party. Until it sorts out its internal problems the public in general and businesses in particular, won’t have confidence it could be a government in waiting.


Will Labour follow Labor?


Labour leader David Shearer is on notice :

Labour leader David Shearer has been put on two months’ notice by his own MPs – if the poll ratings don’t improve, his leadership will be challenged.

A Labour MP told 3 News today that Mr Shearer had until spring – two months away – to pick up his and Labour’s performance.

The MP, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “The caucus is just really flat. It’s not panic or anxiety just yet, but a couple more bad polls and it will be. David’s got a couple more months. A change in leadership cannot be ruled out before the end of the year.

“Spring time is when people will get really nervous, just over a year out from the election. We don’t want to get into the “Goff-zone”, where it’s too late to change the leader, but you’ve got someone in there the public just don’t want -the phone is just off the hook.” . . .

Continuing poor poll results precipitated a change of leadership for the Australian Labor Party.

Continuing undermining of Julia Gillard’s leadership by her colleagues was one of the reasons for her loss of support.

Labour’s already emulating Labor in that regard and if that continues they’ll be following their Australian counterparts with a leadership challenge in a couple of months too.

Knitting for victory


In World War II people were encouraged to dig for victory by creating or enlarging their gardens to provide their own food.

Julia Gillard is featured in the Australian Women’s Weekly knitting a kangaroo for the soon-to-be-born royal baby.

Julia Gillard in the Australian Women's Weekly

Could she be knitting for victory?

Or is she following a pattern of failed media moments (remember Geoffrey Palmer’s trumpet solo?).

Has she dropped too many stitches?

Or could this stop her leadership, and her Labor government, unravelling?

Gillard calls for leadership vote


Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called for a leadership vote this evening.

JULIA Gillard has called a caucus meeting for 4.30pm to allow a ballot for leadership positions, after Simon Crean’s dramatic appeal to her to end the party’s deadlock.

A defiant Prime Minister began question time with the announcement of a vote, then challenged the federal opposition: “Meanwhile, take your best shot.”

Regardless of the result the real winner will be the Liberal Party because voters don’t like parties which are unstable and lack unity.

That’s one of the problems both the Australian Labor Party and New Zealand Labour Party have in common.

Is there no-one else?


A majority of Australian  voters would prefer Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, however a majority of the Labor caucus prefer Julia Gillard as leader.

If the voters want the man who caucus can’t stomach and caucus wants the woman who polls show will lead the party to defeat, is there no-one else in the party who would be popular with both the caucus and the public?


Does anyone know why there’s no u in the Labor Party although Australia generally follows the British English spelling for labour?

Ruddy mess in Labor


We were in the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia during the last Australian election campaign.

There was no great enthusiasm for Labor or Julia Gillard there, although we were mostly talking to station owners and business people who probably didn’t give a representative sample of views.

Several referred to her as the “geenger beetch” but I wasn’t sure whether it was her hair colour, gender or politics to which they were objecting.

However, she won the election – just and has managed to hold a fragile coalition together and keep the country on a reasonably sound economic footing in the face of global turmoil.

However, she and her government have become increasingly unpopular and now the man she deposed as leader, Kevin Rudd has resigned as Foreign Minister, jumping before he was pushed by Gillard.

The question now is whether or not he has the numbers to lead a leadership coup or whether he’ll resign and force a by-election.

Exactly what would be achieved by Rudd’s return as party leader and Prime Minister is summed up by Larvatus Prodeo:

. . . a government which presides over an anomalously healthy economy (by international standards) and, for all its imperfections, made real progress in many important areas, is currently ripping itself to bits in a leadership contest between two individuals who do not appear to have any significantly different policy views, in the midst of appalling polling.

It’s a ruddy (Ruddy?) mess which is entertaining for political tragics.

But it’s very damaging for the government and the Labor Party and the only ones likely to benefit from whatever happens are the Liberals.

How good are they at selling policy?


Quote of the week from Clark and Dawe: 

Your mob couldn’t sell lambs to a Kiwi.

They were discussing the Australian Labor government’s difficulty in selling policy to the public. 

It could apply just as well to the Labour opposition on this side of the Tasman.

Labor’s love lost


The Labor Party has lost the love of the electorate after 16 years in power in New South Wales.

The victory of the Coalition led by Barry O’Farrell came with the biggest swing in Australian electoral history.

If there are lessons in the routing for New Zealand one of them is that every party in power has a best-by date. Another is this:

Mr O’Farrell told 400 supporters at Parramatta Leagues Club: ”We won tonight seats we never dreamed of winning. And I am determined that the government I lead will govern for all people.” . . .

 . . .  ”The Liberal Party was born to represent all people, not sectional interests.”

MMP  makes it easier to promote sectional interests and gives them power far in excess of their support. But a government which panders to those interests to the detriment of the majority will be punished.

That is what happened to Labour here. In buying votes and and attempting to woo various small groups they  lost support of the majority.

Loser but no winner


Australia may have its first hung parliament in decades after election night results gave neither Labor nor the Liberals a majority.

Julia Gillard refused to concede last night and it’s possible she may be able to cobble together a coalition once preferences are counted. But coming second on election night was a loss for Labor and its very new leader.

However, being ahead by a nose but without a clear majority can’t be counted as a win for Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party either.

One of the criticisms of MMP is that it doesn’t necessarily give a conclusive election night result. But Britain’s election under First Past the Post earlier this year and Australia’s preferential system have both given indecisive results.

April 27 in history


On April 27:

1124 David I became King of Scots.


1296Battle of Dunbar: The Scots were defeated by Edward I of England.

A man in half figure with short, curly hair and a hint of beard is facing left. He wears a coronet and holds a sceptre in his right hand. He has a blue robe over a red tunic, and his hands are covered by white, embroidered gloves. His left hand seems to be pointing left, to something outside the picture.

1495 Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was born (d. 1566).

1509 Pope Julius II placed the Italian state of Venice under interdict.


1521 Battle of Mactan: Explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed in the Philippines by people led by chief Lapu-Lapu.


1539  Re-founding of the city of Bogotá, New Granada (now Colombia), by Nikolaus Federmann and Sebastián de Belalcázar.


1565  Cebu was established as the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.

1578  Duel of the Mignons claimed the lives of two favourites of Henry III of France and two favorites of Henry I, Duke of Guise.

1650 The Battle of Carbisdale: A Royalist army invaded mainland Scotland from Orkney Island but was defeated by a Covenanter army.

Carbisdale castle.jpg

1667 The blind and impoverished John Milton sold the copyright of Paradise Lost for £10.

Milton paradise.jpg

1749 First performance of Handel’s Fireworks Music in Green Park, London.


1759  Mary Wollstonecraft, English philosopher and early feminist, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, was born (d. 1797).

Left-looking half-length portrait of a slightly pregnant woman in a white dress 

1773 The British parliament the Tea Act, designed to save the British East India Company by granting it a monopoly on the North American tea trade.

1777 American Revolutionary War: The Battle of Ridgefield: A British invasion force engaged and defeated Continental Army regulars and militia irregulars.

1791 Samuel F. B. Morse, American inventor, was born (d. 1872).

1805 First Barbary War: United States Marines and Berbers attacked the Tripolitan city of Derna (The “shores of Tripoli” part of the Marines’ hymn).


1810 Beethoven composed his famous piano piece, Für Elise.


1813  War of 1812: United States troops captured the capital of Upper Canada, York (present day Toronto).

1822 Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War general and 18th President of the United States, was born. (d. 1885).

Ulysses S. Grant in a formal black and white photo. Grant is seated with arms folded. Grant looks weary and his beard is greying. This is the photo used for the $50.00 bill.

1840 Foundation stone for new Palace of Westminster was laid by Lady Sarah Barry,  wife of architect Sir Charles Barry.


1861 President of the United States Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

1865 The New York State Senate created Cornell University as the state’s land grant institution.

The Cornell University Seal

1865 – The steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,400 passengers, exploded and sank in the Mississippi River, killing 1,700, most of whom were Union survivors of the Andersonville and Cahaba Prisons.


1893 New Zealand’s Premier John Ballance died.

Death of Premier John Ballance

1904 The Australian Labor Party becomes the first such party to gain national government, under Chris Watson.

Australian Labor Party Logo

1904 Cecil Day-Lewis, Irish poet and writer, was born (d. 1972).


1909 Sultan of Ottoman Empire Abdul Hamid II was overthrown, and succeeded by his brother, Mehmed V.

1911 Following the resignation and death of William P. Frye, a compromise was reached to rotate the office of President pro tempore of the United States Senate.

1927  Carabineros de Chile (Chilean national police force and gendarmery) was created.

Roundel of Carabineros de Chile.svg

1927 Coretta Scott King, American civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King, Jr, was born (d. 2006).

1927 Sheila Scott, English aviatrix, was born (d. 1988).

1932 Pik Botha, South African politician, was born.


1941 – World War II: The Communist Party of Slovenia, the Slovene Christian Socialists, the left-wing Slovene Sokols (also known as “National Democrats”) and a group of progressive intellectuals established the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People.

1945 World War II: German troops were finally expelled from Finnish Lapland.

1945 World War II: The Völkischer Beobachter, the newspaper of the Nazi Party, ceased publication.


1945 World War II: Benito Mussolini was arrested by Italian partisans in Dongo, while attempting escape disguised as a German soldier.


1947 Peter Ham, Welsh singer and songwriter (Badfinger) (d. 1975), was born.

1948  Kate Pierson, American singer (The B-52’s), was born.

1950  Apartheid: In South Africa, the Group Areas Act was passed formally segregating races.

1951 – Ace Frehley, American musician (Kiss), was born.

1959  The last Canadian missionary left China.

1959 Sheena Easton, Scottish singer, was born.

1960  Togo gained independence from French-administered UN trusteeship.

1961 Sierra Leone was granted its independence from the United Kingdom, with Milton Margai as the first Prime Minister.


1967 Expo 67 officially opened in Montreal with a large opening ceremony broadcast around the world.


1967 Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, Dutch heir apparent, was born.

Close-up of Willem-Alexander wearing a military peaked cap

1967 Erik Thomson, Australian actor, was born.


1972  Constructive Vote of No Confidence against German Chancellor Willy Brandt failed under obscure circumstances.

1974 10,000 march in Washington, D.C. calling for the impeachment of US President Richard Nixon.

1977 28 people were killed in the Guatemala City air disaster.

1981 Xerox PARC introduced the computer mouse.

1987 The U.S. Department of Justice barred the Austrian President Kurt Waldheim from entering the United States, saying he had aided in the deportation and execution of thousands of Jews and others as a German Army officer during World War II.

1992 The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, comprising Serbia and Montenegro, was proclaimed.

1992 Betty Boothroyd becamethe first woman to be elected Speaker of the British House of Commons in its 700-year history.

1992 Russia and 12 other former Soviet republics became members of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

1993 All members of the Zambia national football team lost their lives in a plane crash off Libreville, Gabon in route to Dakar to play a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Senegal.

Shirt badge/Association crest

1994  South African general election, 1994: The first democratic general election in South Africa, in which black citizens could vote.

Nelson Mandela.jpg

1996 The 1996 Lebanon war ended.

2002 The last successful telemetry from the NASA space probe Pioneer 10.


2005 The superjumbo jet aircraft Airbus A380 made its first flight from Toulouse.


2006 Construction began on the Freedom Tower for the new World Trade Centre.

Freedom Tower New.jpg

2007 Estonian authorities removed the Bronze Soldier, a Soviet Red Army war memorial in Tallinn, amid political controversy with Russia.


Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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